Dare We Write it in Cement? Don’t Miss This Extraordinary Love Story: A Severe Mercy—and Join Us for Book Club next Monday, 2/24! (Information at the end of this post.)

Friends! Have you ever seen anyone staring at a mailbox?  I get that.  I’ve done that.

Four weeks before our wedding, with invitations in hand, all addressed and stamped, I remember I hesitated at the mailbox.  “This is it!  No turning back now!”…

Seconds, seeming like hours, passed.  Deep breath.

Whoosh…into the mailbox they went.

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Thirty-three and a half years later, I’m pleased to report, John and I are still happily married and yes, we’ve dared to write many things in cement.  Two of our homes, a former one and our current one, have had charming water-in-the-basement issues. Upon their repair, new cement poured, we trek down the stairs to write something prolific or silly in the cement.

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So why is it, please tell me, so many of us are afraid to make a commitment?  Fear of failure, or pride, perhaps.  “Blame it on today’s culture…” many will say.

Allow me to offer a brief respite.  One  into the blissful world of love.  Young love.  Naive love.   Pagan-turned-Christian love.  So completely-certain-of-love, this couple you’ll meet would one hundred percent  have written their names in cement.

All of the above and more is found in an extraordinary love story, A Severe Mercy , by Sheldon Vanauken.  It won the National Book Award as well as the Gold Medallion Award.  (A dear friend gave me this for Christmas a few years ago and I can’t quit talking about it!!! I’m about to re-read it since it’s Valentine’s month.)

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Along with such bliss, throw in a friendship with none other than author  C.S. Lewis.  You, the reader, will get to read eighteen of Lewis’ letters to Sheldon within the book.  Favorite discovery?  Lewis was quite the crackerjack!  He certainly didn’t fear sharing his brutally honest opinion about anything!  (And for you happy texters out there, Lewis abbreviates a lot, so you’ll have to crack his code.)

How God orchestrates Sheldon’s friendship with Lewis is fascinating.  How God orchestrates Sheldon and Davy’s (her real name was Jean) romance and ultimate marriage is nothing short of breathtaking.

Sheldon’s picturesque writing causes you to ooh and ahh, turning the pages as fast as you can to discover what lies ahead.  I found myself floating along the countryside right with them, almost feeling a breach of privacy in their romance.

Voracious readers, poets, lovers of the sea, and music aficionados, Sheldon and Davy delight the reader with their daily antics.  Their gatherings with friends are festive and intriguing.  Their spiritual path, while comical at times, reinforces how God is so passionate in His pursuit of us.  His painstaking attention to detail never ceases to amaze me.

Our Heavenly Father provides just the right person at just the right time to lead us into His loving arms.  When doubt arises, as it often does,  He brings to mind that special person in whom we may confide.  Watching these scenarios transpire in Sheldon’s life is amazing grace at its’ finest.  Many times Sheldon shares his questions with C.S. Lewis.  Can you imagine having C.S. Lewis as your spiritual mentor?

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Sheldon and C.S. Lewis’ friendship was a gift to both of them, especially in later years.  Believe it or not, both of their wives suffered from terminal illnesses.  They walked these paths together.  Don’t miss their journeys.

C.S. Lewis preceded Sheldon in death.  Sheldon recalls Lewis shouting across the street during their Oxford days, “Christians NEVER say goodbye!  In eternity, there’ll be ‘time enough’!”

Sheldon called C.S. Lewis  “Jack” per Lewis’ pleading.  He added, “And as Jack said, ‘We must talk of a thousand things when you come.’”

Early in their relationship, when Sheldon accepts Christ into his life, he writes to tell Lewis.  Lewis replies, “My prayers are answered!”  Then he issues a warning we’d all be wise to heed:  “There will be a counter attack on you, you know, so don’t be too alarmed when it comes.  The enemy will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you.  Be busy learning to pray. “

Lewis continues, “Blessings on you and a hundred thousand welcomes.  Make use of me in any way you please; and let us pray for each other always.”  (I’d drop the note like a hot potato if C.S. Lewis offered me his council at any time, wouldn’t you?)

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Prior to Sheldon’s conversion, Lewis closes another letter with, “The Holy Spirit is after you.  I doubt if you’ll get away!” Sheldon confesses to us readers that this time in his life “was getting serious” and he and Davy were a bit frightened.  He says, “Alarm bells sounded, but I couldn’t decide where to run.  The personality of Jesus kept emerging from the Gospels with astonishing consistency.”

You’ll be moved to tears witnessing their faith come alive.  Because of Sheldon’s very open and tender depictions, it feels like yet another breach of privacy.

Sheldon and Davy embraced Philippians 1:21 and Galatians 2:20:

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(Footnote: for an excellent read on To Live Is Christ to Die Is Gain checkout this book by Matt  Chandler…)

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Without giving away anything else, I’ll end with Sheldon’s closing words about writing this book.  He said he prayed almost hourly, “that Christ would be in me, and speak through me.”  His prayers were answered…(Also don’t miss how the title came to be.)

He was dumbfounded by the overwhelming responses from readers once the book was published.   Scores told him how much the book meant to them, literally stabbing them in their hearts, making them kindred spirits.  Sheldon said, “Our broader kinship is, I think, we’re all so alone in what lies deepest in our souls, so unable to find the words and perhaps the courage to speak with unlocked hearts, that we do not know that it is the same with others.”  Amen.

“Robert Louis Stevenson said that every book was intimately a letter to friends.”

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I pray each and every one of you dashes out to find and read this beautiful love story.  It’s February, after all.  Love is in the air!  And chocolate is filling the aisles at the stores and most assuredly our chocolate bowl at home!!!

‘Til next time!

P.S.  Load up your car with friends and head to Branches Book Club.  We will be meeting next Monday night, February 24th, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. to discuss a laugh out loud novel, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. This was a fun discovery of author, Bethany Turner, and the book promises to bring about a lively discussion!  Come join us at Middletown United Methodist Church, in the Connection Center, at 11902 Old Shelbyville Road.  RSVP to Nancy Tinnell at (502) 245-8839.

 

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are “affiliate links.”

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Add a Side of Community with that Burger: Love for Friends this Valentine’s Week

Friends!  Doesn’t everyone love a good burger every now and then? Our family discovered Five Guys and Fries a few years ago.

Clearly novices, we all ordered cheeseburgers, not realizing that their regular burgers are double burgers. No one complained (!!!) and we were some sweet kind of happy. Peanuts in the shell to munch on, followed by juicy burgers, and a Titanic-sized side of fries….Oh my…

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Fellowship plus great food is the best combo’ you can order. While being with family can be super swell, this week I’d like to talk about the power of COMMUNITY in friendships. In this case, I’m talking about girlfriends, and this Valentine’s week, we can call them “Galentine’s”…

I’m blessed to have a group of friends known as “The Yayas.” Kathy somehow assigned this moniker to us after finding a lovely gold plaque for each of us with this definition: “A group of three or more women whose hearts and souls are joined together by laughter and tears shared through this glorious journey of life.”

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One of the Yayas, fellow dog lover (!!!) named Susan, gave all of us an awesome book a few years ago for Christmas:  Nobody’s Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle. Friends, do not miss this book! You’ll laugh and cry and howl, shaking your head thinking, “I cannot believe she’s sharing this, but I’m so glad she did!!!”

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You can read more about the YaYas in Chapter Two of my new book, Let’s Be Friends.

You don’t want to miss Melanie’s blog, either: www.thebigmamablog.com She serves up “everything from soup to nuts” as my Mother used to say.

Melanie’s book takes us down Memory Lane to show different aspects of her twenty-five year friendship with Gulley. They do life together.

Melanie’s gift of writing draws you in so you feel like you’re in her family room watching it all transpire. (Sidebar: Melanie wrote an equally funny book on marriage.)

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One of a gazillion hilarious antics include Melanie conning Gulley into watching Frozen.  Wait ‘til you read Chapter Four.  Does she love it like most of us???  Not tellin’….

Another fun discovery is Melanie and Gulley realize road trips are one of their ultimate favorite activities. Now they take their children on road trips, all together, and you don’t want to miss these adventures.

The Yayas took a brief road trip a few years ago when Kathy’s daughter got engaged. The Engagement Party was in Columbus and we decided we must, simply must go. It’s not every day one drives two hundred and fifteen point three miles to Columbus, Ohio from Louisville, Kentucky for a party and back.

Lo and behold, we were blessed with one of our Yaya children to accompany us. Translation: Us old chicks snagged a chauffeur. (Poor Megan was pregnant too, God bless her.)

These six sweet-n-special-n-southern Yayas met when our oldest children, now thirtythree-plus years old, were in first grade at Dunn Elementary School. Those were the days.

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(Pictured left to right are Jayne Combs, Denise Seiz, Kathy Daniels, above her is Susan Bugh, then Bev Fleece and finally Yours Truly.)

Who knew we’d attend weddings and funerals together? Even the trials knit us that much closer together.

We’re a picture of Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

There’s beauty and comfort in Community.

The plot blissfully thickens as our Yaya children are having children. No one has discovered grand parenting like the Yayas. Currently five of the six Yayas are grandparents, and we are all the best adopted Great Aunts on the planet. Just sayin’…And, as Melanie and Gulley always tell each other, “Nobody’s cuter than you!”(thence the book’s title), the Yayas are always telling each other, “YOU are the BEST!”

Melanie tells us her book “is about all the friendships we as women develop over a lifetime and the influence they have over who we were, who we are, and who we will become.”

Gulley’s the main friend Melanie talks about, and you’ll love becoming acquainted with Jen and a couple other of her friends. Jen endured a prodigal season, but then shared with everyone how she found her way back to Christ. In doing so, she got Melanie to go with her to a Bible study.

Melanie says, “by watching these people live their lives, I learned what it means to seek God’s will….ultimately they pointed me closer to not only Jesus but also to my dear husband.”

After reading Max Lucado’s No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Melanie says her favorite part is from Max’ recounting of the Prodigal Son:

Whatever you have done,

Whatever you have become,

It doesn’t matter.

Please come home.”

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Melanie adds, “So I came home. And God, in return, lavished me with a scandalous amount of grace as He filled my life not only with wonderful new friends who encouraged me and loved me, but also brought Gulley right along with me as she began to develop a real relationship with God too.”

Melanie says her five years at Texas A & M were what she needed and clearly what God knew she needed. She said, “God knit my heart together with the people He knew would hold my hands as I walked the path of the Prodigal Son.”

Friends, this is a beautiful visual of Community!

This very week, February of 2020, the Yayas took their first real escape to my favorite place of paradise, Naples, Florida.  While we were only in Naples four nights, we covered a lot of ground, savoring a variety of mouth-watering dishes at fabulous restaurants, also managing to get in a wee bit of retail therapy.  They indulged me and let me drag them out onto the Pier where John and I met many moons ago.  Here are a few highlights:

Meanwhile, cherish your friends and thank the Lord for giving them to you. I always maintain, “Friends are cheaper than therapy.”

 ‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are “affiliate links.”

 

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Calling All Grandparents: We Have a Mission!

Friends!  I’m on my fourth trip of reading thru’ a devotional for grandmothers.  Every single trip thru’, I flip anew over a myriad of pearls of wisdom author Kay Swatkowski shares.

When John and I first became grandparents in May of 2017, my sis-in-love, Margee, gave me this book:

I’ve since given it to countless friends who were also becoming grandparents. And, I have even more exciting news if you’re thinking of someone to give a copy of this book to…Just this week I popped in a Hallmark store and lo, and behold, there was Kay’s book in a beautiful gift-style cover! It’s hardback and the title is in white stitching—exquisite! (Visit your local Hallmark, or I bet you could order it on-line.)

Available at Hallmark.com.

Each entry offers excellent prayer ideas, accompanied by Scripture along with a “think and do” section which almost always offers books for further reading (Kay has cost me a small fortune!), questions to ponder, followed by more Scripture.

Day Fifty-Six’ entry stopped me in my tracks this week.  Kay strongly urges us to consider ourselves our grandchildren’s first prayer partner.  Before they can even pray by themselves, or with you, pray for them faithfully.

Kay says, “Intercessory prayer is a privilege. Bringing a Christian brother or sister’s needs before the Lord is an honor…as great a privilege it is to pray for other believers, it is an even greater honor to pray for our grandchildren.”  And here’s where she got me:  “Imagine the joy of being your grandchild’s FIRST PRAYER PARTNER.” Kay asks, “Could our greatest work be the work of prayer?”

Checkout the below Scripture:

Some days I don’t feel so “fresh and green,” more like tired and worn out, yet notice the verse says we will “STILL bear fruit in old age.” May we take this as our “mission,” to faithfully and daily pray for our grandchildren.  When they’re old enough to realize our efforts, let’s pray they’ll come to rely on us and trust us with their prayer requests.

Yesterday I attended a Bible study at Christ Church Methodist taught by my dear friend and mentor (and therapist!), Liz Curtis Higgs. We spent some time studying a passage where Paul tells us about Timothy and his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, who each taught him about the Lord, giving him a deep, and sincere faith. (See 2 Timothy 1:5)

Liz reminded us that while some of us may never have grandchildren, there are always children in our lives whose lives we may have the privilege of influencing.  She shared how the Lord crossed her path with “foster parents” (whose last names are Foster!). They  poured into her when she was a new Christian and have kept pouring into her all these years. Liz gave us a fabulous quote to ponder:  “Family is God’s workshop here on earth.”

 

Checkout our author Kay’s website. The above picture is of Kay and her husband, Ray. Her website has a little bit of everything! Here are the headers: About Kay, Faith, Food, Fun, Read Aloud, and Everything Else. It’s a goldmine!

2019 was a huge, banner year in our household. John and  I celebrated our thirty-fifth anniversary, and God blessed all three of our sons and daughters-in-love with babies.  Christmas of 2018 found all three of our daughters-in-love pregnant!  We now have four grand angels to pray for…And now, a shameless photo for you:

Pictured left to right:  Charlotte Elise (born 8/30/19), Claire Elizabeth (born 5/9/17), Woodford Lee, Jr., a/k/a “Ford” (born 3/18/19) and Henry Pierce (born 4/22/19)

In this particular entry of Kay’s devotional, she recommends three excellent books (Yes, I have all three and they really are superb resources loaded with pertinent Scripture):

Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson

This is a really cute and clever children’s book:  One Year Devotions for Preschoolers by Christine Bowman

And I love how Kay promotes other books similar to hers yet different:

Grandma, I Need Your Prayers by Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock

Let’s close with the prayer from Day Fifty-Six:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the loving Christians who have prayed for us throughout our lives. Their prayers were a gift to us. Father, teach us how to pray so we can be effective and powerful as we bring our grandchildren’s requests to you. Give us sensitivity to their concerns. Teach us to honor their privacy by not sharing their concerns with others. Help us to be consistent in our prayer lives, not only for our own growth, but also so our grandchildren can truly trust us with their requests.  Thank you for the opportunity and privilege of praying for these children. Lord, we want to be their prayer partners. Thank you that we can still be of use to you at this stage of life. May our prayer life keep us young and vibrant in spirit and bearing much fruit for your kingdom. Amen.”

May we endeavor to pray faithfully for these grandchildren as they grow up in our crazy culture.  Let’s also pray for each other while we’re at it!

‘Til next time!

P.S.  If you’re looking for a spring-time Bible study, reach out to Christ Church United Methodist and sign up for The Women of Easter Bible study, taught by the author (of the book of same name), Liz Curtis Higgs.  The classes will meet on Tuesday mornings, March 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.  Four hundred of us have loved learning about “Jesus Girls” this month of January and my guess is many of us will continue to come in March!  Please purchase the book prior to the study either via your favorite bookseller, or you may pick it up at Christ Church for a suggested donation of $10. You can either call Christ Church or sign up on-line:  www.ccum.net or 502-897-6421.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are “affiliate links.”

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What’s Your Point of View? You Don’t Want to Miss Our Book Club Meeting Next Monday, 1/27! (…with fascinating discussion of Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s Book.)

Friends!  Load up your car with friends next Monday night, January 27th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. and join us for what promises to be a super fun-in-every-way night.  Branches Book Club, at Middletown United Methodist Church will be discussing a new book by Elisabeth Hasselbeck called Point of View:  A Fresh Look at Work, Faith, and Freedom.

I learned a lot about a lot of topics, most of which I had no clue regarding Elisabeth’s life and career.  I knew she’d been a contestant on Survivor in 2001 and soon afterwards got a chair as a co-host on The View.  But who knew she was a walk-on for the softball team at Boston College?  Or a shoe designer? Throw in three young children and a husband that played in the NFL and she’s spinning multiple plates!

Before we dive in, let’s hear from some of Elisabeth’s endorsers:

Roma Downey says, “…Elisabeth’s book carries a powerful message that reprioritizes the great truth: He calls, He equips, He never leaves.”

Lysa TerKeurst says, “In a world that sometimes begs us to do the total opposite, Point of View is a great resource that will help us process having a godly perspective.”

Candace Cameron Bure is who took Elisabeth’s place on The View when her contract wasn’t renewed.  As God would orchestrate, they became dear friends.  Candace wrote the Foreword to this book. I love how she ends it:  “God changes our point of view when we understand just how blurry our vision really is without Him.”

Each and every chapter offers beautiful reminders that our Sovereign Lord is in charge. The lengths to which He went for Elisabeth are astonishing.  Elisabeth offers us many metaphors also in each chapter sprinkled with pertinent Scripture to lean on.  She dubs her friends “spiritual optometrists who have helped me look at something differently or more closely and pointed my eyes to a different point of view.”

I also never made the connection that the same year Elisabeth was on Survivor, our very own Rodger Bingham, a/k/a  “Kentucky Joe” was too.  He and Elisabeth were on the same team. She says they quickly developed a father/daughter type of relationship.  While each participant was allowed their own, personal “survival item,” Elisabeth chose a crafty headdress she made from a collection of scarves that were important to her.

Kentucky Joe’s survival item was his Bible!  He often taught Elisabeth from the Bible and they bookended their days with prayer and Scripture. She shares, “Every night and morning we prayed, beginning with praising God and thanking Him, praying for our families back home, and asking for safety in the long, uncertain days that lay ahead of us.”

Numerous lessons Elisabeth shares will bless you and strengthen your faith. She says, “Rodger pointed my eyes, through our alliance in heart, to reliance on faith.”

Leading up to the Australian Outback where they’d be for Survivor, (noting 9 out of the world’s 10 most deadly snakes are found in the Outback), Elisabeth and other potential contestants had a series of tests to take.  (I’d have thrown in the towel long before I ever got started.) I found myself shaking my head a lot,  saying, “No way!”

Elisabeth’s ten years on The View were anything but easy.  Having a Biblical worldview and discussing “Hot Topics” usually got her in the hot seat and highly criticized, however, she held her ground.  She attributes a large part of her strength and stamina to putting on the FULL ARMOR OF GOD every morning.  She says, “I prepared my heart each morning with the armor of God because I knew each day would have its challenges.”

Ephesians 6:10-18 spells out the full armor of God for us:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Some fun parts of the book include Elisabeth’s sweet relationship she had with the one and only Barbara Walters.  Interviews with major celebrities and opportunities to dinners at the White House, etc. were frequent.  Not all of them went swimmingly.  Don’t miss these!

When she learned her contract on The View wasn’t being renewed, she decided to stay as long as possible and daily recited, Psalm 3:3,

We readers also benefit from the many lessons Elisabeth learned along the way such as “how to leave a job well.” She also shows us how not to take a new job at the expense of your little ones.  Her vulnerability on how she crashed and burned with Fox is eye-opening and impressive she has the guts to share this with us. She realized, “it was time for my family to get the best of me, not the rest of me.”

We look forward to a lively discussion and more lessons we can all take home from our book club meeting this coming Monday. Our theme is “All American,” so plan to bring a snack related to that if time allows. Be thinking of some friends you can bring and please join us next Monday night, January 27th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.!!! Middletown United Methodist is at 11902 Old Shelbyville Road, in Louisville, 40243.

RSVP to Nancy Tinnell at (502)245-8839.

We look forward to seeing you!

‘Til next time!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are “affiliate links.”

 

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What is The Art of Everyday Worship?

Friends! Please allow me to share with you info on a beautiful, coffee table book that’s not only pretty to look at, but encourages you to find the wonder of each new day.  Frankly, I struggle with taking things, people, and places for granted until my eyes are reopened by wake-up calls from our Creator. “Still a work in progress” comes to mind…

The book?  Oh, you’ll LOVE this one:  Beholding and Becoming:  The Art of Everyday Worship by Ruth Chou Simons.

I first discovered Ruth’s breathtaking art and writing gift from her first book, Gracelaced:  Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the HeartI flipped over it and snagged multiple copies for my daughters-in-love and friends the year it came out.  Thus, I was beyond excited to discover Ruth’s newest endeavor, Beholding and Becoming.

Here’s the cover of her first book:

FYI:  Both books also have companion journals, which make great gifts as well.

In Beholding and Becoming, Ruth begins with,

“A relatively short time ago, we didn’t have an ‘online life.’
Tweeting was for birds,
posts were for fences,
and text required ink.”

She builds her case by reminding us the clutter we’re inundated with from our culture causes us to miss the “art of beholding.”

Ruth invites us to “be transformed, one everyday moment at a time.”  We readers get to do exactly that thanks to her words of wisdom, saturated with Scripture, many times in a beautiful painting, or two or three, found in each of the sixteen entries.

We’re also given, in the Glossary, information about various insects, plants, flowers, etc., showing us what they symbolize.  I found this fascinating, i.e. “blackberries…the thorns and blood of Christ,” or “bluebells…humility.”

Worship is defined as “esteeming a thing or a person more highly than everything else and giving it your utmost attention and adoration.”

Here’s one of many favorite quotes:

Missionary Elisabeth Elliott famously encouraged all who crossed her path to “just do the next thing.” Ruth includes a favorite verse, Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  She expounds on this, “When we believe the Giver of every ordinary moment in our every day is the faithful God who is trustworthy for each next step we take in our daily lives, we have reason to rejoice in the gift of another day.” (To which I’d add several exclamation points!!!)

Another reason I stand in awe of this book, and of author Ruth Simons so much is because of her life she lives on a daily basis.  She and her husband are the parents of six, count ‘em six, boys!!!  Checkout both of her websites:  www.gracelaced.com and www.ruthchousimons.com

The gracelaced website has a shoppe where you can find prints and notecards…just look at how beautiful they are.  She also includes super fun recipes, plus ideas of how to put the “family friendly snacks” to use, just for example.

This is one of many options available in her Shoppe at http://www.gracelaced.com.

Savoring these sixteen entries will take a while as you feel as if you’re stepping into an art gallery with each one.  You can easily spend a lot of time in each section.  The last one happens to be my favorite, “Actively Abide.”

We readers discover Ruth and her family recently bought some property with a pond on it in Colorado.  Their boys were the most excited about it, however they quickly became disappointed when they learned the pond is not connected to a water source, thus it’s a grand ole’ hole in the ground come summer!  Here’s where she points us to John 15:9-10,

We learn, “The meaning of the original Greek word meno (which is ‘abide’) in the New Testament means:

To stay,
To remain,
To be true to,
To persevere,
To keep walking beside;
To get in close,
To dwell,
To be near,
To not perish,
To withstand.”

Friends, may we seek to abide in Him and worship Him every day with wonder and with new eyes.

Now you know what I’m going to say, “Run, don’t walk to your favorite bookstore and get your very own copy of Beholding and Becoming.”  You’ll thank me later, I’m certain!!!

‘Til next time!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are “affiliate links.”

 

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A New Year’s Resolution Worth Your Consideration…

Resolution, Schmezolution.

If I had a nickel for every New Year’s Resolution I’ve been-ever-so-desirous-of-but-ditched, I’d be rich. Same song, different year…How ‘bout you?

Therefore, I’m not making any resolutions this year…

Wide-eyed tho’ you may be, It was my resolution to not make any resolutions….

Until…..I came across a lovely idea we can all do. It comes from a book my friend Mary gave me by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby in their noteworthy devotional, Experiencing God Day by Day. 

Experiencing god

The entry from December 23rd is entitled The Wisdom of Spiritual Checking. The Blackabys discuss how we’re all used to having our progress measured in lots of ways. For example, we’re given tests in school, employee evaluations at work, and let’s not forget those charming physical exams from your docs.

My doc had a sign that read:   “Eat Less. Exercise More” in every single exam room. I always challenged his nurses to place me in a room without that sign, but alas, they really were In. Every. Single. Exam. Room. (As were the obnoxious scales.)

Hiding Numbers

The Blackabys point out that while we’re measured in many areas of our lives, we’re rarely measured by our spiritual growth. We learn from Luke 2:52:

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The Blackabys remind us of Paul’s words:   “When he was a new Christian, he behaved as a spiritual child, but as he matured in his faith, he began to act like a spiritual adult.”  (1 Corinthians 13:11) They build their case by saying “There’s nothing wrong with acting like a baby when you are an infant, but…

… it is the obligation of every believer to strive for maturity.”

Hebrews 6:1 says, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity….” (ESV)

The Message is more my speed: “So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on ‘salvation by self-help’ and turning in trust toward God…”

3D Keep Calm And Trust God Button Click Here Block Text

The Blackabys suggest, “It is helpful for you to measure the progress in your spiritual life from time to time.”

How, we wonder, would one do such a thing?  Our authors recommend we ask a mature Christian if our actions reveal our maturity. Another question to ask yourself comes from the Chairman of the Board of the school our boys used to attend (I’ll never forget it.): Are you more mature in your faith today than you were six months ago?

Photo of a funny surprised girl

I know, yikes! Let’s vow to pray about these questions this week.  Ask God to bring to mind someone you can ask about your spiritual growth.

Along with the Blackabys, my mentors all agree that time spent diving into God’s Word, via a Bible study and quiet time is invaluable. 

There’s still time to sign up for four fun Tuesdays (the month of January) for a brand new Bible study, taught by my dear friend and mentor, Liz Curtis Higgs, starting tomorrow, January 7th, from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m., at Christ Church United Methodist.  What a way to begin a new year!  Call the office to jump in:  (502) 897-6421.  They’re at 4614 Brownsboro Road, here in Louisville.  Lots of my Tuesday Bible study buddies are diving in too!  We hope to see you!

Women Bow And Pray

Meanwhile, I pray your brand new year begins with blessings a plenty!  May we all “grow up in Christ.”

Here’s to a happy-n-healthy 2020!

‘Til next time!

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Four Fabulous Phrases Plus a Crazy Fun Fact for You this Christmas…

One verse.  Four names.  It’s all we need this Christmas Week…

But first, a question:

How’s your memory? You may say, “What memory? My train of thought just left the station…”

C-train, Calgary

I’ve been up a creek without a paddle after numerous grocery runs. Forgetting milk isn’t as big of a deal-breaker as forgetting hamburger when you’re making tacos.

Forgetting names is my strong suit. I meet someone and instantaneously, poof!, their name evaporates. Infuriating. Frustrating. Embarrassing.

Further forgetful, I forgot to order a book in a recent order of gifts and cards from a favorite catalog company known as Bas Bleu. (www.basbleu.com ) The book? Wait for it….

You Can Learn to Remember: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life (You Can… (Watkins Publishing)) by Dominic O’Brien

You can learn to remember

I thought, “Wow, for $9.95, why not?” Excited to open my package a few days later, the memory book was MIA. I looked at my order list. Nope, I did not order it. How can you forget to order a book on remembering?

Well, one thing I did learn this Christmas season, is I can remember one Scripture verse. You can too. It’s been my go-to phrase. Repetition helps! (If you think you can’t do this, trust me, if I can, you can.)

Best book for doing so? Obviously your Bible, but add this one to it and you’re in business: 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart by Rob Morgan.

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I’d like to give you the verse I learned and recommend simply repeating these four fabulous phrases (names), especially this week, praising our Lord and Savior. He is our gift this Christmas, and every day, as we roll into, gulp, can it be, 2020???

Christmas Nativity Scene

Isaiah 9:6 says,

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be on his shoulder,
And his name shall be called
WONDERFUL COUNSELOR,
MIGHTY GOD,
EVERLASTING FATHER
PRINCE OF PEACE.” (ESV)

These four fabulous names are gifts for us we can give back to the Lord in praise to Him:

1 – Wonderful Counselor:

Jesus told His disciples in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Not only is the Holy Spirit our Advocate or Counselor, my favorite gift He offers is when we are so overwhelmed we don’t know what to pray for, He steps in and mediates for us.

Romans 8: 26 tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Remember “Wonderful Counselor”!

Gift

2 – Mighty God: Our God is Mighty. Think Mighty Warrior. Psalm 50:1 says, “The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.” (ESV) Mighty is, well, mighty. Praiseworthy. Remember “Mighty God”!

Gift Box

3 – Everlasting Father: Everlasting is forever. Our God is our Forever Father. HCSB says, “Eternal Father.”

Isaiah 63:16b says, “You, O Lord, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your Name.” Always was. Always is. Always will be.

Hebrews 13:8 reminds us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Remember “Everlasting Father”!

white gift box with blue ribbon

4 – Prince of Peace:

A prince of anything is someone who’s in charge of something. i.e. Prince Charles. Prince William. Prince Harry.

To learn our Savior is the Prince of Peace should bring us all the peace we can handle. Who doesn’t want peace, especially at this time of year?

Praise Him for giving you and me peace. Don’t forget Jesus’ words in John 14:27…

John 14 27

 Focus and allow His peace to saturate your heart. Offer peace to your family this Christmas! Remember “Prince of Peace”!

Single red gift box with silver ribbon on white background.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a crazy fun fact my friend Pat sent me:

This is a tradition you may wish to start in your own home this year. It comes from the lovely country of Iceland.

Did you know Iceland sells more books per person than any other nation in the world, especially during the Christmas season? They call it Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood”.

Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual 'Christmas Book Flood". Photo courtesy of npr.org. Click image to view article.

Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood”. Photo courtesy of npr.org. Click image to view article.

The tradition has a twofold purpose:

1 – Each person must receive at least one book for Christmas to take to bed with them on Christmas Eve.

2 – Along with taking the book to bed, each person must have some chocolates to go along with their book reading! How crazy fun is that? (You can bet I’ve shared this discovery with my better half. Hint, hint, hint. )

I pray you and your family have a most memorable (!!!) and blessed Christmas and Happy-n-Healthy New Year. I look forward to spending more time with you as we learn about helpful Scripture and books and authors in 2020.

Don’t forget (!!!) the four names:

Wonderful Counselor.

Mighty God.

Everlasting Father.

Prince of Peace.

These two beautiful songs via YouTube may also help you remember and worship:

In 1741, George Frederick Handel composed a song based on Isaiah 9:6 which you can watch the London Symphony Orchestra perform on this YouTube link:

A more contemporary twist to Isaiah 9:6 came out in 2014, sung by Aaron Shust, “Unto Us”. Both of these are wonderful.  Enjoy!

See you next year!

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Holidays, Life Lessons